The Optimist Citizen

A Couple and a cat who walked & hitchhiked from Bulgaria to India in 511 days

Trekking, camping, hitchhiking, couchsurfing, walking miles following an old map, spending months without a cell phone or internet connectivity… and all this in the harsh mountainous regions of Kazakhstan and in the dense forests of Laos- these words might give a shaking shiver of excitement to most of us. For many, this might seem to be a fantasy. So here, we bring a “dream come true” journey for travel lovers.

All the explorers and travelholics, gear up with your bag packs to experience a thrilling journey with a couple who walked and hitchhiked from Bulgaria to India in 511 days.


Boris Kanev from Bulgaria and Marta Samalea from Spain set out on an expedition in 2013 with the desire to find an overland way to India. What might seem to be almost impossible for the mob is a “simple travel” for this duo, who travelled months long just with a DSLR, a nokia phone to stay connected with their parents, a net book and an old Asia Map. The only way they let the world know about their alluring experiences throughout the journey was through their blog “Roving Snails”.

“We began from Bulgaria thinking it would take us 8-9 months to reach India. But we could only reach India after 511 days of walking, camping, cooking and hitchhiking” says Boris. A journey beginning from Bulgaria through the lands of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Georgia, across parts of central Asia and to China and South East Asia finally brought them to the Indian border via Myanmar.

“The Asian Landscapes were mesmerising. It was a treat to the eyes. It was breathtaking. Each country had different landscapes and weather conditions and it was a great experience to explore the cultures of different countries…” – Boris

Boris walking around Kazakhstan Landscapes
Boris walking around Kazakhstan Landscapes

Collecting the joy of experiencing the beauty of landscapes and the richness of the diverse cultures throughout the travel, the couple also took up small projects like organizing workshops, making crafts and authoring a book. “We organized small workshops for children where they came, played with the maps, made up imaginary means of transport, shared stories of their villages and enjoyed small travels with us. It was utmost fun”, explains Marta.

Boris and Marta talking to chidren during the Myanmar Taungoo Travellers workshop in Dhamma School
Boris and Marta talking to chidren during the Myanmar Taungoo Travellers workshop in Dhamma School

The artistic couple during their journey also found pleasure in collecting and making craft items which they used to sell out to sustain their travel financially. Cutting down on their expenses was the usual practice they followed along their journey. “We lived on three Euros a day; we camped all over the continent, and many times we were invited to  stay in people’s yards and living rooms ,which on top of being the best way to see and get to know everyday life in different places, is also good for little budget travels. We cooked our own food, not depending on restaurants so much”, mentions Marta. Their travel was electrifying and thrilling, yet simple and economic.

When asked about how did they manage convince their parents, Marta replied, “Our travel to India was not a sudden decision. We left home to study abroad at the age of 17. We also went for short adventure camps and treks earlier in and around Bulgaria, Spain and all over Europe, from its most North point and to the most South. This is how we as well as our parents and families gathered confidence for this long journey. We finished our jobs and gathered money for our long dreamt expedition to India and this is how we set out for it.”

Boris and Marta at the China Chola Pass
Boris and Marta at the China Chola Pass

The duo now plans to spend a few months in India to wander around and enjoy the beauty and richness of this incredible nation. Meanwhile, they would gather money for their way back home and are also working on a book which they plan to finish before their return journey. “We are even considering flying back to Bulgaria because it has been quite a long time and our families want us to return back soon”, says Marta.

The expedition of Boris and Marta has set a benchmark for travellers all round the world and people who read the beautifully written stories on their blog “Roving Snails” would realize that how easy, simple, beautiful and refreshing a life beyond the daily conventional routine, a life close to nature could be.

Read their blog here : Roving Snails
Picture Courtesy : Roving Snails



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